Gang-Rape Victim Says She And Others Silenced by Halliburton
Jones says she and others are forced to argue their cases in arbitration.
Feb. 12, 2008— -- A Houston, Texas woman, who says she was gang-raped by her co-workers at a Halliburton/KBR camp in Baghdad, says 38 women have come forward through her foundation to report their own tragic stories to her, but that many cannot speak publicly due to arbitration agreements in their employment contracts.
Jamie Leigh Jones is testifying on Capitol Hill this afternoon. She says she and other women are being forced to argue their cases of sexual harassment, assault and rape before secretive arbitration panels rather than in open court before a judge and jury.
Jones returned from Iraq following her rape in 2005. She was the subject of an exclusive ABC News report in December which led to congressional hearings.
After months of waiting for criminal charges to be filed, Jones decided to file suit against Halliburton and KBR.
KBR has moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom, as provided under the terms of her original employment contract.
Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, says it is improperly named in the suit and referred calls to KBR.
In arbitration, there is no public record or transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator hired by the corporation would decide Jones' case.
In fact, Tracy Barker, who says she was sexually harassed and sexually assaulted while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq, also recently tried to file suit against the companies. She was forced into arbitration last month.
Jones will tell Congress today that she was not aware that when she signed her employment contract, she was effectively signing away her right to bring a lawsuit.
"When I decided to pursue a civil suit, I was informed that within my 13-page employment contract that had an additional five pages attached, [there was] included an arbitration clause," Jones says in her prepared statement to the committee.